Questions and Critical Thinking
Materials as Languages
(all of the following artistic images were created by preschool children and were the result of the adult learners asking children many questions and exploring together)
It's Enrique here from the F.A.M.E. Foundation and author of Living Like a Child. I'm so excited to be sharing with you again as I do every month on this wonderful collaborative blog. Last month I shared a lot of images related to "Creativity and Wire Sculptures." I mentioned the importance of:
- allowing for a balance of abstract and linear thought
- encouraging children to create Art in their own image
- discover their own passion
The first step is using questions with children. Last month, I highlighted the children's wire sculptures in the classrooms of Natalia C. Mora and Maria Inez Gortarez. I went back and interviewed Natalia to find out more about the process which has worked wonders for children and parents at their preschool center. It's one thing to see beautiful things made by children. It's another to understand how the process of children-initiated creation happens. When we understand how to engage this process, we can use any Art form as a powerful stepping stone to meaningful and life long learning. Below, Natalia discusses how they began the process of creating their wire sculptures.
Part I of III
Wasn't that great! She mentions the interests of the child and the word "investigation." Natalia and Maria took the time and risk to engage children in a real discussion of what they wanted to use to create. This authentic approach to helping children create leads to some wonderful Artwork, but more importantly it fosters young children who can think critically! And questions were the gateway!! My colleague Debbie Clement refers to this in her wonderful blog on the importance of process. Enjoy the following images which use some wire, but also use cork and other odds and ends. I really have to tip my hat to Natalia and Maria. They have created a real culture of thought in their classroom!
"Me and My Daddy Made a Castle with a Princess Together"
Natalia and Maria have found ways to involve parents in a very meaningful and on-going manner. What I find so important in their work with children is their expectation that children already bring a great deal to the table. Natalia and Maria started this project 4 years ago and each year, they "allow the process to be different" based on the children's interests. Below Natalia describes how the parents reacted when their children first starting using wire and that reaction changed over time to one of amazement and pride in their children's ability to create and problem-solve.
Part II of III
Enjoy and share the following images and remember that what you're seeing was the result of a lot of discovery and exploration which started with questions like:
- "What can we do with the wire?" (Bend it, twist it, cut it, etc.)
- "Does it break when we bend it?"
- "How can we cut it?"
- "Where can we find wire in our classroom and in our world?"
The most important question Natalia shared with me that she and Maria used with the children was "What's Next?" An open ended, abstract question that leads directly to critical thinking...brilliant!
"A robot and his puppy playing in the yard"
A close of "Park"
A work in progress
Natalia and Maria took this whole concept to another level by having Father Figure Nights. During these sessions, parents brought in their tools and worked together with their children, a concept discussed in depth by my colleague Danny Brassell. They built and discussed together as they created as a team. The children had so much experience built up over time with the process of creating that they took the lead! Imagine parents learning from children....simply magnificent on so many levels. Parents LOVED it and were truly amazed at how much initiative, creativity and independent thinking their children showed. Listen to Natalia share the rest of the story!
Part III of III
As I mentioned earlier, each time the process is unique. Enjoy these images of wire being combined with the writing of a child's name. The improvement over months in how many children could visualize their letters and name was really something to behold.
Name first traced and using wire to match the tracing
Name made in wire without tracing
As I wrap this up, keep in mind the following:
- Identifying a child's interest can lead to discovering a talent
- When we discover their talent, we have a much better chance of guiding that child to recognizing their passion in life.
This doesn't happen overnight, but if we start early the chances are so much higher. I know this from personal experience. My mom and dad identified my interest in piano at age 4 when I asked to play piano. Over time I discovered that I was really great at it and today I'm a film composer, pianist and vocalist in addition to being an early childhood educator. More importantly, I figured out how to take an idea and make it a reality and that is a gift worth sharing!